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Budget should demonstrate commitment to Māori

Wellbeing Budget should demonstrate the Coalition Government’s commitment to Māori

The team at Hāpai Te Hauora, New Zealand’s largest Māori public health NGO, hold high hopes for a transformational budget from the coalition government this Thursday.

The ‘wellbeing’ budget has been promoted as the first Budget to account for long term measures of wellbeing, as well as the traditional indicators of economic growth such as GDP.

"Wellbeing is at the essence of our mahi at Hāpai," says Selah Hart, CEO of Hāpai Te Hauora. "Hauora is a Māori concept that literally translates to ‘complete or total wellbeing’ so we are naturally excited about the opportunity to see this concept of holistic wellbeing reflected in a Budget."

While only one of the government’s five priorities for 2019 mention Māori specifically, Hart says that each will impact Māori more than any other population group.

These priorities are:

- Creating opportunities for productive businesses, regions, iwi and others to transition to a sustainable and low-emissions economy;

- Supporting a thriving nation in the digital age through innovation, social and economic opportunities;

- Reducing child poverty and improving child wellbeing, including addressing family violence;

- Supporting mental wellbeing for all New Zealanders, with a special focus on under 24-year-olds; and

- Lifting Māori and Pacific incomes, skills and opportunities.

"For example, when you talk about transitioning to a low-emissions economy - Māori are more likely to be working in low-skilled jobs, often in industries considered not sustainable from a climate science perspective, living in areas poorly served by reliable and affordable public transport. If efforts are going to be effective in transitioning the population to a low-emissions economy, there needs to be specific attention given to making sure Māori are not left behind."

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"The interesting thing about the Budget and the kōrero from the Minister of Finance and Prime Minister in advance of its delivery this week, is that the government has explicitly identified the issues around equity which prevent Māori from thriving in the same way that other population groups do."

Hart says "This is a powerful message to our people that our voices have been heard and our needs will be recognised by the equitable distribution of public funding into areas which will make a tangible difference for Māori. We hope they won’t be disappointed."


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